Fota boss speaks out about ticketing fiasco for Christmas wonderland event

Fota boss speaks out about ticketing fiasco for Christmas wonderland event
Wonder at Fota Island Resort runs from the 23 of November to the 23 of December.

FOTA Island Resort has sincerely apologised for a glitch that occurred with their online ticketing system for this year's Christmas experience, which could have affected more than 1,200 customers.

A half-price discount was applied to online purchases due to a technical issue on the Wonder Christmas Experience website this week. 

Customers who had no code but who clicked to apply a discount had 50% taken off of the purchase price.

Meanwhile, a similar discount code provided to members of the 5-star resort also made its way into the public domain.

Some customers feel they have now been left in limbo, and are wondering whether their booking will be honoured.

Joanne Fitzgibbon, her husband, and four children were due to attend the experience for the first time this year, having heard only good reviews. 

However, she says that the events of the last few days have left her gutted. She had booked the tickets without a discount code but says it was automatically applied at the checkout.

“I’m really put off after it,” Joanne says. 

"This is really after bursting the bubble of the experience when we don’t know where we stand yet. I really hope they resolve this issue because this time of year Santa experiences book out, and I wouldn’t like to be left with no place to see Santa for the children.” 

Another customer who had purchased tickets online told The Echo that she wasn’t happy with the follow-up tone of communication from management via e-mail and Facebook. She described the issue as “very unprofessional, and not a high standard you expect of a 5-star hotel.” 

Seamus Leahy, Marketing Director at Fota Island Resort and lead on the Wonder Christmas Experience project, explained that there was a flurry of booking activity on the site when the glitch was discovered, from late Wednesday night until they deactivated the code just before noon on Thursday.

If the resort were obliged to honour every booking made it could cost in the region of €60,000 to €80,000, while if they were to compensate those who made regular bookings in the same time frame the event wouldn’t be able to go ahead.

Fota Island Resort are now in the process of contacting all of the affected customers to figure out whether they were entitled to use the discount codes.

Mr Leahy says following advice they are offering three options to customers who were not entitled to 50% off: a full refund, the option to pay the balance or to move their booking to another time or date if that would be more affordable.

“We are very disappointed this has happened,” Mr Leahy says. “We don’t blame people for being frustrated or annoyed.”

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